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How I made my Defender Road-Legal in MI


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  • Member ID:  1,283
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Since I commented on getting a custom cable brake in my On-Road Insurance thread, I've had interest in how I got my Defender road-legal in Michigan.  Here's what you need to know:

1) PROOF THAT WE'RE ALLOWED DO THIS:  MI waffles on this issue, and many cops insist that the laws allowing this were permanently repealed, and thus, may even refuse to pass your inspection, but that's currently true only for quads in the southern part of the state.  Go to https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-96435_1587_1588-25476--,00.html Assembled Vehicles.  Read the whole thing, but especially:  "Note: Off-road vehicles (ORVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road dune buggies can be titled as an assembled vehicle for on-road use."

2) WHAT EQUIPMENT IS REQUIRED:  Go to https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-96435_15242-34425--,00.html   Off Road Vehicles (ORV).  Read the whole thing, but especially:  "The vehicle must be retro-fitted with high- and low-beam headlights, brake lights, taillights, turn signals, horn, windshield, windshield wipers and washers, independent parking brake, street-legal tires and all other on-road equipment required by the Michigan Vehicle Code. It will be retitled as an "assembled vehicle" and issued a new vehicle identification number."

3) BIGGEST EQUIPMENT CHALLENGE:  Page 2 of Assembled Vehicles details what the independent parking brake must consist of:  "the parking brake must be mechanical, and not hydraulic. Mechanical brake calipers activated by a hand lever and cable assembly can be bought from aftermarket vendors."

4)  THE INSPECION FORM THAT A POLICEMAN WILL HAVE TO FILL OUT  Go to https://www.michigan.gov/documents/TR-54_38480_7.pdf   For the TR-54 form and note that it also lists a lighted license plate holder and a rear bumper as being required.

I printed everything out in duplicate and studied it carefully.  What worried me most was, they say that for the final inspection, you'll be told when and WHERE to take your vehicle.  I have no way of hauling mine, but in fact, when I told them that, they happily sent the state inspector to my house.  And for the initial inspection, which the website says must be done by a state policeman, that's not true.  Any cop with a badge number can fill out the TR-54 form.  I did find that I had to have a cop from my county, but it was no biggie.  I also didn't know where to start the whole process because nowhere does the SOS offer a way to make an inspection appointment.  Turns out, you make it yourself by calling your local cops.  Also, my particular cop didn't sound like he knew where to get the form, so I printed it out for him.

Several side-by owners told me it's not necessary to get a cable brake because the parking brake that comes on the Defender (and apparently others) will fool most policemen who do the initial on-site inspection.  And that might've been true in my case.  If I hadn't pointed out my cable brake, I think my guy would've passed the OEM brake.  But the STATE INSPECTOR didn't look for anything else.  She said the policeman had passed everything else, so she didn't need to do it again, and that her job was to pass the cable brake.

As far as appointing your machine with all this stuff, I had the dealer install all 3 mirrors and the most aggressive road tires that are road legal, but I found everything else on amazon.  My light kit was $330 and included directionals, flashers, and legal car horn.  My lighted license plate holder was $10.  For a bumper, they only require a bumper-step that you slide into your hitch receiver.  The one I chose was $100.  I won't quote the cost of my custom brake because that'll be something your own mechanic will decide, but suffice to say, it was several hundred dollars.

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  • 4 months later...

  • Member ID:  1,708
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Great information. Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

  • Member ID:  1,763
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What hand/cable brake did you install? If you had it installed, where and how much?  Any picures?


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